EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -Cold, harsh winters are inevitable living in the Badger State. As a community the Eau Claire Area School District is asking, we make sure no student has to do it without the proper warm gear, especially our community’s youth.
Year-round you can drop off supplies at the district’s main building, “We are always in need of snow pants, and snow boots, underwear, new underwear, socks, tennis shoes,” says Dani Graham, who runs the Eau Claire Area School District Homeless Program.
Coats, gloves, hats, you name it, the closet has it—providing students experiencing homelessness with what they may need, in a time of crisis.
Graham says since the start of this school year they have identified around 150 students struggling with permanent housing.
“Snow pants, snow boots, these things are all expensive, and when a family is trying to figure out—can I pay for my electric bill , or can I purchase these items—we don’t want to have to worry about that, we want their child to have what they need for school, be able to come and participate,” Graham says.
With one-third of the district’s students at the level of income to qualify for free or reduced lunch, the need for warm winter gear is massive.
Two years into the pandemic, only making matters worse.
“If there’s a family that needs something, its nice to be able to work with another coworker and say ‘hey, I don’t know if so-and-so has snow pants,’ maybe they don’t have them or maybe they got lost, ripped, maybe they don’t fit,” says Christina Geissler, partnership coordinator at Locust Lane.
Geissler says being able to give students what they need to succeed in school in immensely rewarding.
“It’s not easy to talk about but it feels so good to help, to help the students and help the families I think that’s the best part of my job…they’re family,” Geissler says.
One thing that remains unchanged, is the community being ready to help at the drop of a hat. Unrelenting generosity Graham calls it.
“It’s only because of this [generosity] that we really don’t look like some of the other communities that are struggling, because people are so generous.”
While the closet may look stocked inventory changes daily as items go to the students as soon as they need it.
The district is looking for winter gear in ALL sizes but right now, especially youth and toddler size coats.
If you’d like to donate new or gently used gear you can drop it off at the district’s administrative building.
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